Leith van Onselen


Unemployment in detail

By Leith van Onselen As summarised earlier, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released labour force data for the month of July, which registered no change in the headline unemployment rate (still at 5.7%). However, total employment fell by a seasonally adjusted 10,200 persons, with full-time employment decreasing by a 6,700 persons and part-time


Unemployment rate steady on falling participation

By Leith van Onselen The ABS has just released labour force data for July, which has revealed the following headline figures: Important things to note: The unemployment rate remained steady at 5.7%. Total employment decreased by a seasonally-adjusted 10,200 (0.1%) to 11,653,200. Full-time employment decreased 6,700 to 8,133,900 and part-time employment decreased 3,500 to 3,519,300.


Would abandoning the one child policy help China?

By Leith van Onselen I have noted previously how China’s economy will soon face still headwinds from an ageing population (see here, here, here, and here). Essentially, China’s ageing problem stems from its ‘one child policy’, which was brought into effect in the early-1970s and is credited with preventing around 400 million births from 1979


Mining juniors: consolidate or collapse

By Leith van Onselen ABC’s The Business last night screened an interesting short segment (above) on the pain being felt by junior miners and explorers as the China-induced commodity price boom unwinds. According to the segment, there are around 600 listed junior miners and explorers, many of whom are suffering from lack of funding and


Construction finance continues to improve

By Leith van Onselen Yesterday’s housing finance data for June, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), continued to point to an ongoing recovery in the new home market, with the total number of finance commitments for construction and new dwellings increasing by a seasonally adjusted 0.6% over June, 13.3% over the year and


Links 8 August 2013

Global Macro/Markets:  Major economies out of sync – Sober Look North America: Another Dumb Idea: “Eminent domain” for Underwater Mortgages – Calculated Risk Fed Will Need Treasury’s Help Exiting QE – Business Insider BofA Put Toxic Debt in Bond as Staff Resisted, U.S. Says – Bloomberg Washington Edges Warily Into Housing – New York Times


WA to axe First Home Buyers’ Grant?

By Leith van Onselen From The Western Australian today comes news that the West Australian Government is set to fall into line with the other states and territories and axe the First Home Buyers (FHB) Grant on pre-existing dwellings: WA’s peak real estate body believes the Barnett Government is poised to axe the $7000 first


Charting the first home buyer retreat

By Leith van Onselen Today’s housing finance data, whilst strong overall, was concerning from the viewpoint that first home buyer (FHB) demand remains weak, despite mortgage rates falling to near multi-decade lows. As shown below, the lion’s share of mortgage demand in Australia is currently being driven by investors and upgraders (see below charts). Looking


Housing finance rips

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released housing finance data for the month of June, which registered a seasonally-adjusted 2.7% increase in the number of owner-occupied finance commitments over the month. It was the fifth consecutive increase in owner-occupied commitments, but missed analyst’s expectations of a 2.2% rise. The


Roy Morgan consumer confidence tanks on Budget

By Leith van Onselen Roy Morgan Research (RMR) has today released its weekly consumer confidence index, which revealed a sharp fall in confidence following the Treasurer Chris Bowen’s announcement of a material deterioration in Federal Budget finances from a projected $18 billion deficit to over $30 billion. Over the week ended 3-4 August, the RMR


Cigarette tax hike defies economic logic

By Sam Oldfield, who is an economics student at Latrobe University and an Associate at Prosper Australia. The Rudd government’s sudden increase in cigarette taxes completely disregards sound economic practice. Joe Hockey calls it “policy on the run” – he couldn’t be more correct. Making smokers the targets of Kevin Rudd’s war on anything bad


Links 7 August 2013

Global Macro/Markets: The global economy is now distinctly Victorian – Financial Times North America: Fed’s Evans Won’t Rule Out September Pullback in Bond Buying – Wall Street Journal Bubblephobes, Rejoice: Asking Home Prices Declined in July – Trulia Trends Americans With Best Credit in Decades Drive U.S. Economy – Bloomberg Summers-Yellen debate could threaten the


Positive trade balance to add to June GDP

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released trade data for the month of June, with Australia recording a seasonally-adjusted trade surplus of $602 million. The result disappointed analysts’ expectations, which had expected a trade surplus of $804 million. It was the fifth consecutive monthly surplus and follows the $507 million


ABS: House prices jump in June quarter

By Leith van Onselen The last of the major house price data providers, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), today released their capital city house price indices for the June quarter of 2013, which reported a 2.4% increase in capital city house prices over the quarter. However, the result was strengthened by the fact that


Ken Henry: Taxes must rise to pay for ageing

By Leith van Onselen Former Secretary to the Australian Treasury, Dr Ken Henry, has come out swinging today attacking both major political parties for peddling a “fiscal fairytail” by promising to maintain or expand government services without increasing taxes. This approach, according to Henry, is impossible in light of Australia’s ageing population, and he is


Survey: Households more financially at ease

By Leith van Onselen ME Bank has released its latest Household Financial Comfort Report, which revealed that household financial comfort has increased by 4% to an index reading of 5.5 out of 10 – the highest level since the index was first established in October 2011.  The index, which based on a survey of 1,500


AFG shows continued FHB retreat

By Leith van Onselen Australian Finance Group (AFG) has released its housing finance data for the month of July, which registered a 12% increase in mortgage applications over the month, but more importantly (since the series isn’t seasonally-adjusted) a 21% increase the number of applications over the year. It was also the Group’s strongest July


Melbourne property remains vulnerable

By Leith van Onselen The Department of Sustainability & Environment (DSE) has released data on the number of housing transfers and mortgage lodgements/disharges across Victoria in July, which showed ongoing weakness in both housing turnover and mortgage demand. Looking at the transaction side of the market first, you can see that the number of transfers


Roy Morgan unemployment rises again

By Leith van Onselen Roy Morgan Research last night released its unemployment estimate for the month of July, with registered an increase in the unemployment rate to 10.1% from 9.7% in June (see next chart). As explained previously, Roy Morgan Research measures employment differently from the ABS: According to the ABS definition, a person who


Links 6 August 2013

Global Macro/Markets: The Recent Bond Market Selloff in Historical Perspective – New York Fed Berkshire Avoids Bond Rout as Buffett Builds Shareholder Equity – Bloomberg Get Ready for the Next Round of Bond Pain – Wall Street Journal North America:  ‘Uncertainty’ isn’t a problem anymore – Washington Post Budget Bedlam This Fall – capitalgainsandgames.com Most


Bank deposits levy too small?

By Leith van Onselen Despite all of the bleating over the Rudd Government’s proposal to implement a modest levy on deposits to cover the cost of any future bank bailout, an analysis by NAB’s head of fixed income and credit, Michael Bush, has shown that the funds raised would not even cover the costs of


Retail sales continue to disappoint

By Leith van Onselen The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has just released retail sales figures for the month of June, which registered no change on a seasonally-adjusted basis versus an expected 0.4% rise. Annual sales growth clocked in at a meagre 1.1% (2.9% trend): Retail sales have been relatively stronger in the resource states


Auction clearances strong

By Leith van Onselen Reported auction clearance rates in Australia’s two biggest markets were strong over the weekend. In Australia’s biggest auction market – Melbourne – clearances rose to 74% on 515 auctions reported to the REIV, although 22 auctions were listed as “no result”, which should lead to some downward revision once late results


Will lower interest rates juice housing construction?

By Leith van Onselen Yesterday’s Financial Review Sunday program, aired on the Nine Network, contained an interesting segment on Australia’s housing construction industry and whether it will be able to fill the void left as the mining investment boom unwinds. Adelaide Brighton chief, Mark Chellew, argued that the dwelling construction recovery was fairly muted due